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FTRG: Who We Are

Lab Directors  

Richard E. Heyman, Ph.D.

Dr. Heyman is co-director of the Family Translational Research Group and Professor in the Faculty of Health at New York University. He has been Principal Investigator (PI) on over 50 grants/contracts from federal funders, and has authored about 150 journal articles and book chapters. His research program has focused on the development and maintenance of family problems, with a strong focus on family maltreatment and relationship distress. Dr. Heyman's current studies investigate these phenomena from the most microsocial (e.g., What dyadic processes underlie both anger de-escalation and coercive escalation? What are the mechanisms through which these processes impact health) to the most macro social (e.g., Is it possible to drive down the prevalence of IPV, child maltreatment, suicidality, and substance problems by intervening on a population's risk factors, not on the problems themselves?). Recent research also includes doctor-patient communication and dissemination of effective treatments for a variety of outcomes. Dr. Heyman's research includes a focus on methodological issues, especially on identifying and rectifying problems with measurement tools. Dr. Heyman created the Rapid Marital Interaction Coding System, the most widely used system currently active for observing couples, and directs its coding center (which codes couples observations for the FTRG and for labs across the world). He received his PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Oregon.

Amy M. Smith Slep, Ph.D.

Dr. Slep's research focuses on understanding the interconnected concepts of anger, conflict, aggression, and abuse in families with the ultimate goals of (a) determining what distinguishes adaptive from destructive processes and (b) developing effective interventions. Her work is strongly grounded in social learning theory and is informed by basic research on emotion, social cognition, self-control, and aggression. Ultimately, she is interested in identifying and exploiting the naturally occurring mechanisms of change and outcomes to serve as the basis for more powerful interventions. Most of her work to date has focused on testing hypotheses that build toward an integrated theory of the etiology and maintenance of child and partner abuse. To serve as a foundation for such work, she maintains a strong interest in addressing methodological and measurement gaps that exist in this area. Finally, she is committed to translating the findings from her basic studies into effective prevention and treatment, and extending this work into real world settings. Since obtaining her Ph.D in 1995, Dr. Slep has served as the PI or co-PI on eight federally-funded studies. Her work is currently funded by NIMH, CDC, DoD, and USAF.

Research Scientists

Dr. Eddy

Dr. Eddy specializes in conducting rigorous longitudinal research studies of prevention and intervention programs intended to benefit children and families. He is particularly interested in working within systems of care, and over the years, has conducted randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in collaboration with school systems, the juvenile justice system, and the prison and community corrections systems, as well as with non-profits working with these and other social services systems, including child welfare. He has actively fostered and maintained relationships between the research community and practitioners and policymakers with the shared goal of improving outcomes for children and families. Areas of focus have included measurement of family processes and outcomes, culturally competent interventions, long term multimodal interventions, and statistical methodology. His work has been supported by both public and private funders, including the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Justice, the Administration for Children and Families, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, and GIZ. 

Ann C. Eckardt Erlanger, PsyD, ABPP

Dr. Eckardt Erlanger started at the Family Translational Research Group in 2009 with primary responsibilities directing and managing projects focused on assessing and addressing the needs of military service members and their families. These initiatives have ranged from reliable decision-making in clinical work to large-scale prevention efforts, and have been both at the DoD-level, and the service-specific level. Dr. Eckardt Erlanger has traveled to numerous military installations to train front-line collaborators in research and implementation protocols. Since 2017, she has taken on a support role in the lab.

Dr. Eckardt Erlanger is a licensed psychologist who holds specialty board certification in Couple and Family Psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology, and is credentialed by the National Register of Health Service Psychologists.

Michael Lorber, Ph.D.

Dr. Lorber is the Director of Developmental Research at the Family Translational Research Group. His primary research interests are centered on externalizing behaviors – their form, development, etiology, and consequences – from infancy through adulthood, primarily in relational contexts: (1) child externalizing behaviors, their early development, and the roles that family (e.g., parenting) and child (e.g., temperament) factors play in them; (2) aggression in adolescent and adult couples, their longitudinal patterns, and related relationship dynamics; (3) cognitive, affective, and psychophysiological mechanisms of dysfunctional discipline strategies in parents of toddlers; (4) family environment-biology transactions in the development of psychopathology and physical health; (5) prevention of early externalizing problems; and (6) research methodology. His work has been funded by NIMH, NICHD, and NIJ.

Danielle Mitnick, Ph.D.

Dr. Mitnick is the Director of Family Clinical and Prevention Research at the Family Translational Research Group, and a Clinical Assistant Professor.

Dr. Mitnick received a PhD in 2010 in Clinical Psychology from Stony Brook University, and completed her predoctoral clinical internship at the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center. During her doctoral training, Dr. Mitnick focused on couples' relationships, especially across the transition to parenthood.

She serves as the Director of Family Clinical and Prevention Research, overseeing projects such as Couple CARE for Parents, which supports families with young infants in their transition and adjustment to having a new baby.

Dr. Mitnick is a co-course director for Assessment Skills Toward Professional Growth, and contributes to dental education on communicating with patients effectively.

Dr. Mitnick has published on relationship satisfaction, transition to parenthood, and treating intimate partner violence.


Dr. Nichols received a PhD in Clinical and Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. She completed her predoctoral clinical internship at the Institute for Juvenile Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has taught, conducted clinical work, and collaborated on research at Northwestern University, Drexel University, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She received a predoctoral Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Mental Health to conduct her doctoral research on early childhood sibling relationships in high-risk families. Her research interests include social-emotional development, developmental psychopathology, and family relationships.

Aleja Parsons, PhD

Dr. Parsons' research focuses on the alleviation of relationship and family distress in underrepresented populations, with a specific emphasis on African American couples and family systems. She uses an intersectional framework to examine how macro (e.g. systems of oppression) and micro (e.g. racial ideology) cultural factors impact relationship dynamics and family stability. The primary goals of Dr. Parsons' work are to a) identify culturally unique factors that mitigate destructive processes in marginalized communities and b) develop effective culturally relevant interventions. Dr. Parsons' research aims to counter deficit based models by highlighting culturally unique markers of strength and resilience. She is particularly interested in the heterogeneity of experiences within marginalized communities. Dr. Parsons received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Denver.

Kimberly Rhoades

Grounded within developmental psychopathology and risk and resilience frameworks, my research falls into 3 intersecting areas: 1) how family hostility and stress influence the development of conduct problems, delinquency, and substance use from infancy to emerging adulthood; 2) the intersection amongst environmental, genetic, and other biopsychosocial processes (e.g., sleep) in the development of these behavior problems; and 3) how to effectively translate this basic research into effective preventive interventions that can be brought to scale.

Stacey Tiberio

Dr. Tiberio graduated from the University of Notre Dame’s Quantitative Psychology program in May of 2008 and has been working the Family Translational Research Group since August of 2017.

Methodologically, her primary research interests include longitudinal data analysis — or the modeling of how processes change over time. In particular, she is interested time-dynamic transactional models, which apply concepts self- and co-regulation to understand the uni- and bi-directional relationships within and between processes.

Dr. Tiberio's substantive research interests predominately focus on gaining a better understanding of how individuals’ physical and mental health may be influenced by their own behaviors, the behaviors of those around them and their social contexts. Dr. Tiberio is particularly interested in violence prevention, and identifying risk and protective factors of violent and antisocial behaviors.

Junior Research Scientists

Kathleen Cracknell

I graduated from Christopher Newport University in 2016 with a BS in Psychology and a minor in Childhood Studies. Since graduating, I have interned in the Lab for Child Development at Johns Hopkins University and spent a year as a research assistant on a self-regulation project at Penn State University. When I'm not in the lab, you can find me reading, writing, watching melodramatic tv shows, and hanging with my two awesome and sweet kitties! I am very excited to be in NYC and join the FTRG team as a data manager!

Gabriella Damewood

I recently graduated from St. John’s University with a BA in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. There, I developed a passion for social justice issues. During my senior year I worked as an extern at FTRG, and upon graduation joined full time. I am extremely excited to contribute full time to a lab dedicated to furthering domestic violence research. In the future, I hope to pursue graduate studies in order to serve under-privileged populations. 

Ashley Dills, LMSW

I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from New York University in 2012, and was given the opportunity to join the lab full-time as a Junior Research Scientist. As many before me, I was a former FTRG extern, so this was quite an honor. In 2016, I received my Master of Social Work from NYU and continue to work part-time as a Clinical Research Assistant, helping with many aspects of the research process including IRB submission and the publication of study results.

Emma Ellerbeck

I graduated from Binghamton University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 2016. Following matriculation, I was an extern at FTRG, before joining the staff full time in September 2017. I am very excited to be a member of a team comprised of such talented and dynamic individuals. In the future, I hope to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology. In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, eating, hiking, and stopping dogs on the street to pet them. 

Kimberley Gonzalez-Quiles

I graduated from St. John's University with a BA in Psychology and a minor in Sociology in 2015. Soon after, I earned an MA in Experimental Psychology with a specialization in Social and Developmental Processes from SJU. While attending graduate school, I volunteered as a Research Assistant at the Child HELP Partnership in the PARTNERS Clinic of SJU. There I worked closely with families from diverse backgrounds who were impacted by violent and traumatic events. I was also fortunate enough to serve as an Extern at FTRG while pursuing my Master's degree. Currently, I work on the Army FAP project, which has always been a huge interest of mine as an Extern. I am happy to be back at FTRG as a Junior Research Scientist with amazing people who are dedicated to their work. I hope to one day continue my studies at the doctoral level to pursue a degree in Clinical Psychology. Aside from research, I enjoy boxing, weightlifting, cooking, and reading sci-fi novels. 

Roland Hart

I earned a BS in Psychology and a BA in Music from Drake University in 2013. I then moved to New York City where I completed my MA in Psychology at Columbia's Teachers College in 2015. During my time at Columbia, I joined the HIV/Gender Sexuality and Health research center at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, where I studied sexual minority stress and HIV risk among NYC adolescents. From April 2014-April 2017 I was employed at the NYU School of Medicine where I studied biological markers of PTSD and traumatic brain injury among US military veterans. Also during this time, I worked as a research consultant for the United Nations, performing statistical analyses for internal staff well-being reports. In June 2017, I joined FTRG as a Junior Research Scientist, and am currently working on FTRG's Army FAP project – a multi-million dollar grant with the U.S. Army to determine the best model for substantiating allegations of family maltreatment.

Broadly, my research interests include veterans and military mental health, aggression/partner maltreatment, and neuropsychology.

Victoria Licandro

I graduated from Hunter College in 2014 with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. Like many Junior Research Scientists at our lab, I was once an extern—a coding extern, specifically. My enduring fascination with interpersonal relationships, dyadic processes, and metacommunication served me well as a coding trainee, later on as a reliable coder, and ultimately, as the current head coder of the Rapid Marital Interaction Coding System (authored by our lab co-director, Dr. Richard Heyman). As a coding supervisor, my primary objective is to usher trainees across the reliability threshold. A wonderful byproduct of my job is getting to teach and learn from the intelligent, hard-working, and vibrant individuals in my coding groups. 

Angela Marinakis, BA

Lab Manager

After completing the externship, I was fortunate enough to join the FTRG staff as a Research Assistant in 2014. Now as Lab Manager, I enjoy coordinating studies and being the point of contact for our lab. I love to learn and share what I learn with others. I graduated from New York University with a BA in Psychology and Anthropology and a minor in Environmental Biology and recently completed my MA in Social and Consumer Psychology there as well.

Samara Trindade

I am a graduate of Nyack College with a BA in Psychology and am currently pursuing a MA in General Psychology at Hunter College. I begin my externship with FTRG as a recruiter for the Dating Study in Fall 2014 and a Demand-Withdraw head coder in Summer 2015. I have been extremely fortunate to join the FTRG staff as a Junior Research Scientist in August 2016 and am excited to work on the Science of Behavior Change study. I plan to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology in the future, work with couples and families, and teach psychology in an academic setting.


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